By Brenda McGraw
It was just what I needed — a ten-day vacation—a seven-night Alaskan Cruise and three nights in Seattle, Washington. The sights were amazing: God certainly knows how to build mountains that reach to the sky, and seas that reach as far as your eye can see.
Seattle Sea Line at Night
My husband and I discussed several times during our vacation what our favorite part of the trip was. He mentioned the Duck Tour we took in Ketchikan, Alaska where we hopped on a bus with about 30 other tourists anxious to ride around the city and see the views and then as the bus turns into a boat we drove straight down off a boat dock into the waterway surrounding the area.
While in the water we looked to our right and saw two beautiful eagles, one bald and one not mature yet.
Mount Rainier in Seattle, Washington
Another day we mentioned as one of our favorites was when we rode into Mount Rainier in Seattle. It was incredible. We rode about an hour into the National Forest up the mountainous roads to a beautiful glacier-covered mountain, an active volcano that hasn’t erupted in over 200 years. The wall of ice is over 200 feet thick but continuously melts away.
We saw so many amazing things while on the ship and touring Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway: the Mendenhall glacier that melts a little away every year and a porcupine in a tree about 15 feet from us; a waterfall so large that people looked very tiny standing beside it. Our ship went to see a glacier at Tracy Arm Fjord and we wondered who in the world first decided it would be okay to take a cruise ship up there. Awe-inspiring mountains and icebergs surrounded us.
We saw many sunsets over the mountains and sea, where God showed off for us with the majesty of color.
One day we took a train ride all the way up to the Yukon in Canada. We rode around the hills, passing on one side where the tracks were constructed in places where no man should have even attempted to be. We heard stories of how 20,000 men tracked through the treacherous hills during the Gold Rush days. The train whistle blew as we went through tunnels so dark you couldn’t see light. It was a thrill ride of a lifetime.
God allowed us to see all this beauty and I am beyond grateful.
Highlights Beyond the Sights
However, one of the main highlights of the trip for me was a shuttle bus ride after our cruise, back to our hotel in Seattle. A Greek-speaking man, probably in his 60’s, picked us up. He was very nice and told us about areas of Seattle as we dropped off another couple at their destination.
As we headed on, he asked us where we were from and we told him, “South Carolina.” He said he didn’t want to upset us if it was a sore subject for us, but wanted to know what we thought about the Confederate flag issue going on in our state. My husband, Jeff, answered.
I went on to say that we were much more concerned with the marriage laws that had just been passed. Seattle had a “Pride Parade” the day we left on our cruise, so I felt this would be okay to bring up.
This opened the door for a conversation about the Lord. The man told us that he walked away from church when he was 14 years old. He just couldn’t believe in God, and it was boring.
I told him I completely understood and didn’t want to be a “Jesus freak” growing up or quit my so-called fun lifestyle.
I then went on to describe how God had changed my life. I shared how God healed me from cancer and made Himself real to me. I explained how God has given me purpose and brought me so much more joy and freedom now, and that “Even if I were wrong one day when I died and it all wasn’t true (but it is), I would have still lived a good life.”
Stay out of Jail?
My Greek friend said, “Well, even if I did believe I wouldn’t live any different than I do right now. I have not committed murder or anything like that.” He went on, “My main concern is making sure that I stay out of jail.”
Stay out of Hell
I thought, “It should not be to stay out of jail, but to stay out of hell.” I told him that God is real and there is a heaven.” I also explained to him that “there is a hell and I would want to make sure I didn’t go there.”
I was able to share with him how being good is not enough to get into God’s perfect heaven, where He allows nothing impure. I said, “We all have sinned and fallen short, so there is no way I can be good enough.” That is why we need a Savior. I explained, “One day we will all find out for sure and meet the Creator, and He will ask ‘Why should I let you into my Heaven?’”
God is good. God is not evil.
I was not going to say anything else when the man asked me, “Since you are religious, why does God allow so many bad things to happen, for instance, Katrina?”
I explained that as for natural disasters, God could be a God of wrath. He immediately said, “Well, let’s say it’s not a natural disaster, but like the shootings that happen or something like that. Why do people say all the good things that happen come from God, but when things like that happen, they don’t blame God?”
I told him, “God is good. God is not evil. Any evil that happens in the world is from Satan, not God. God gives each of us a free will to make choices. He doesn’t cause the evil in the world.”
At that point we arrived at our hotel and said our goodbyes. I have prayed for this man and hoped something I said has made him think and possibly seek the Lord. I will never know this side of heaven if I made a difference. This was also one of the most incredible experiences on our trip, to be the mouthpiece of our Lord.
I pray the Holy Spirit spoke truth to him and he will surrender to God.
There is freedom from jail if you try to live a good life here on earth and abide by the laws.
There is something so much more important and it is freedom from “Hell.”
Just being good enough or abiding by all the laws on the books on earth and in the Bible won’t give you that freedom. The only way we will find freedom from hell is by surrendering our life to Jesus. He loves us and He died for us because God knew we could never be good enough.
Have you sought the One who gives freedom?
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1-6
Will you please join me by praying for this Greek man in Seattle, Washington? Please respond by typing yes or no in the comments.
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